Our College Bucket List

For the past four or five months, I’ve been compiling a list. A bucket list of sorts. But it is all about things I want to do before Beezus goes to college. (Also, I just went and counted. I haven’t had a sunrise/sunset, talked about college moment in eight posts. I’m not saying it’s a record, I’m just saying it’s an improvement.) I spent a LOT of hours working in an office when she was younger and missed A LOT of important (to me) events. Let’s just say that creating a College Bucket List is a way for me to focus on what I CAN do before she’s off to college instead of what I can’t go back and change.

And listen. I know that sending kids off to college isn’t hard for everyone. Or maybe other people just handle it better than I ever will. But I have LOVED making this list. I don’t want to be holding on to regrets when I’m already having a hard time letting go. And YES, some of these trips will have to be when she’s home from college on summer break, but let me pretend I can get this all done in a year and a half.

college bucket listI will probably revise this as we go, but I love that I already have things scheduled or at least know the time frame that some of these things will happen. I guess, like many things in my life, if I have a “TO DO” list, or a plan, it almost feels like it’s all going to be ok. I mean, I’ll still be a weeping mess once the day arrives, but I feel a little less out of control. I feel like these are going to make some pretty damn awesome memories that we’ll all remember.

I have a few things coming up that I’m super excited to talk about. And putting this list together and on the blog helps me to be even more excited about all of it.

all the roads we had to walk are winding

The thing about having your oldest child start her junior year of high school AND turn sixteen in the same week is that it makes you a bit nutty. Or raving effing lunatic. Whatever. You’re a nut job that is sad and happy and certifiably crazy. You just never know what Jill you’re gonna get.

But here’s the thing: I’ve woken up a lot of feelings and emotions this year. A lot of it surfaced when I wrote my LTYM piece. And then it continued to surface as I faced things that I didn’t know I needed to face. Maybe even forgive people that I didn’t know I needed to forgive. Maybe people that thought that teenage mom me shouldn’t, perhaps, keep a certain pregnancy…or maybe that I shouldn’t keep the baby. That I should give her up for adoption. And even more people that thought I shouldn’t get married.

I always thought that I wasn’t mad. But maybe I was a little. Maybe a little bit more than a little.

There were times that I worried that I was going to ruin that sweet baby’s life. We were too young…we weren’t ready. We had a lot to learn about being married and being parents all at the same time. We were ridiculously poor sometimes. We sacrificed a lot. We couldn’t give her and her sister everything we wanted to. I still have guilt and regret over the times when I have failed miserably. I worried that all those people were right. The ones that doubted us the most.

But I think now is the time that I let that anger start to go away. The anger at myself. At the other people. Because the best part of proving everyone wrong? It’s her. It is all her.

prom2
photo: sarah maren photography

I’d gloat about being right, but I don’t even know how. Because I’m just still in awe that I get to be her mom. Even after sixteen years, I can’t believe she’s mine. She is magical. She is a blessing. And she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. And I would go through every bit of sacrifice and hard time if it meant that I could still be her mom. Every single bit.

p&me
us…last year’s birthday party

I know I need to learn to let go. I need to learn how to let her grow up and be the amazing person that she is. But I can’t yet. I want to be selfish for just a little while longer.

promkid
photo: sarah maren photography

Because with a kid like this? It’s hard not to.

at some point, I’m going to have to learn to let go

I don’t remember being tormented by my children “graduating” preschool or starting kindergarten. I remember being sad that they were nervous and scared, but I don’t remember having a “my baby’s growing up!” moment back then. Even when Beezus started middle school, I was all business. I don’t think it occurred to me to be sentimental or sad. It was just the next step! Part of life!

I’m not saying my heart was made of stone. I just think I was working so hard to just keep us all afloat and alive that recognizing milestones wasn’t something I could focus on.

Until I couldn’t focus on anything else.

The night before Beezus started high school, I realized there were a bunch of milestones sitting on my chest and weighing on my mind. They weren’t going to let me get away with ignoring them anymore. It wasn’t so much that she was starting high school-I was excited for that-but that all of a sudden I was on a deadline. Without realizing it, college became this ticking time-bomb and the countdown on the clock was staring me in the face. It was like I could actually see the glaring red numbers showing me exactly how much time had already passed. How much time I had missed when I was so busy just surviving.

Her starting high school meant I had four years left on the clock. Four years left of her being mine.

I’m not dumb. I know that she’ll always be my daughter…but it will all change when she leaves for college. I won’t be able to squeeze her any time I want. She won’t be around for me to cook her favorite meals. (Shut up, it happens sometimes.) She won’t come home to me and us and our house each night. I won’t be able to just walk into her room to see how she’s doing. She’ll be her own person. She’ll be grown.

b&me

This all hit me like a ton of bricks the night before her freshman year. It was wrecking me in ways that I had never experienced. I have no recollection of most things that night. But I remember climbing into bed. And then getting right back out and walking down the hall to her room.

I wordlessly climbed into her bed with her. She was still awake.

“Hey.” I whispered.

And then there couldn’t be any other words from me. The hot tears ran down my face and soaked her pillow as I tried to take a deep breath.

“Are you crying??” she asked. If only to give her something to say.

She knew that I was, of course. We both laughed. And then we resumed crying. Because of course I made my child cry.

When I could finally speak, I told her that I was freaking out. I told her that I was so excited for her and all things high school, but that all of a sudden, I was losing my mind over the fact that I only had four years left before she left for college. I told her that it had snuck up on me. I told her how proud I was of her…how much I loved her. And that I knew I was being a little bit ridiculous. But that I just couldn’t help myself. We laughed that I couldn’t seem to stop crying. At all.

I knew she needed to sleep. I knew that I was supposed to let her.

But I also didn’t want to leave.

mom n beezus

We grew up together, her and I. When I was a (too) young mother just struggling to just survive, she kept me sane. When my heart was broken in a million pieces, she put me back together. At times when I didn’t think I was doing anything right, she made me believe that I was. She was my bright spot when everything was dark. If you wonder why the thought of sending her off to college leaves me wrecked, this is why. She is more than just a piece of me. She’s one of the very best pieces of me.

And I’m going to have a very hard time letting that piece of me go.

she is my wild

♥I had a hard time writing this all out with all that is going on. But sharing with you how much I love my kid(s) seems like just the thing we need.♥
I think there is a part of me that is worried that if I actually write about her turning 11 on Sunday it will make it true. Which is probably the most ridiculous sentence you’ve read today, YOU’RE WELCOME.

If you have known me for even five seconds, you know that as proud as I try to be about raising two daughters in the craziest of lives, you know that the thought of them leaving for college and growing up is tremendously hard for me. I don’t want to be the mom that can’t let go…that can’t let them live their own lives, so I struggle and war with myself. But I also need to let myself have these moments where I’m sad for the amount of time I was away from them when they were littles. The amount of time I’m still away from them. I’m proud of the life we are able to provide for our girls, but that doesn’t take away the fact that I will never get that “little kid” time back.

So when your “baby” turns 11, you feel like you swallowed a brick. And you feel like time is an insensitive asshole who just won’t leave you alone.

Over the weekend, in a conversation with some of my favorites, we were discussing my dear, sweet and VERY different daughters. I’ve said for years that Beezus is my old soul. You could see it in her eyes as soon as she was born. But my Ramona is different. And when the words “she is a new soul” came out of my mouth, I’m not sure I could have believed them more.

Ramona has spent the majority of her childhood trying to be like Beezus while struggling with the fact that she just can’t. Not because she’s not good enough or not special enough…but because she is aiming for something that isn’t her. The square peg in a circle syndrome. But I worry about her. I don’t ever want her to feel like she isn’t enough. Because she is more than enough. She is the life of the party. She is the sweetness that makes me smile. The generous spirit that gives the best hugs. She is the kid with the big ideas.

She is amazing.

Several weeks ago, I learned about a website called “You Are My Wild” where a group of photographers document their kids being kids. Ever since then, the children’s book/poem that inspired the title of that website has been on my mind. Because if there were a way to describe my Ramona, I do believe this is a start.

“You are my I love you”

I am your parent you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audience, you are my clown
I am your London Bridge, you are my falling down
I am your Carrot Sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favourite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you

Author: Maryann K Cusimano

 

She is my wild. My beautiful, beautiful wild.

11thbday

Happy birthday, baby girl.

I Find Other Parents Fascinating

Tonight is the big Sports-a-Rama (SAR) and Beezus’ school. Go ahead and Google the crazy awesome that is SAR. I’d much rather you do it because I’m kinda too lazy right now to do it. But basically, SAR is a school wide competition between the classes. It started a couple months ago with each class deciding on their themes. T-shirts are designed and made. Then practices start. Decorations are decided. And then the big day arrives and everyone is too tired to even remember what they’re supposed to do. (Ok, that last part is only partly true.)

Last year, the only reason I bought tickets was because I wanted to support my kid. That’s it. This year I bought tickets because I had an absolute freaking blast watching these high school kids compete in the most ridiculous activities. (Tug-o-war, crab-ball, “critter country”, I don’t even know what else. But it’s awesome.)

There is so much (overly-exhausted, delirious) school and class spirit in that room. I don’t know about your high school, but mine didn’t have anything like this. I can’t even begin to tell you how  much fun it is to just be a spectator. Plus, it’s pretty great to see my kid enjoy the hell out of her high school experience.

There’s this part of the program that’s called Statue. I have no idea why it is called that because there is nothing statue about it, but it is basically a type of choreographed routine that the kids come up with that goes along with their theme. (Last year, the Freshmen put a spin on Finding Nemo with the theme “Finding Frosh” and their statue was a choreographed…play? Skit? To go along with that. Imagine 50 freshmen “swimming” into formation of an arrow much like the tuna from Finding Nemo.) So as the kids get older, they wait until the last minute to teach their teammates the statue routine so that they don’t forget it. (This makes sense to high schoolers. Whatever.)

All of this is taking a really long time to tell you that last night, the Sophomore class pulled their “overnighter” to learn their statue routine. (Beezus was home by 11. Overnighter is a loose term.) Beezus, after getting permission from us, had 3 teammates come home with her so that they could finish a prop/decoration of some sort for tonight’s event. I totally didn’t even mind because I was already in bed! (The Dude was on duty because he had today off.) (I should’ve just gotten up with these kids, because I kept waking up to make sure The Dude was checking on them.) (I’m super helpful.) (I’m done with the parenthesis.)

At about five this morning, The Dude went out to check on the kids only to basically find out that they have no ride home and that they’re pretty much just hoping to get a ride with us to school. My husband was weirded out by this. He was overly concerned that we would basically be sending these kids off to school without their parents seeing them at all.

As he comes back in our room to tell me all of this, I have a couple thoughts:

1: Eh…no big deal. We’re driving that way anyway.

2: THIS IS SO WEIRD, OMG WHAT KIND OF PARENTS DO YOU KIDS HAVE?!?!?!?!

To be clear, I don’t mind that these kids were at our house. They all seem to be nice, respectful kids. But, as a parent, I’m completely horrified that these parents don’t mind that their (15-16yo) children don’t come home because they are staying the night at some stranger’s house? I find this FASCINATING! Horrifying, yes…but fascinating! This is not something that I would feel comfortable with. At all. I’m also glad we’re nice people!

During homecoming, we allowed Beezus to go to the “overnighter” to work on the float because I met the parents first AND I picked up around 2am. (Because I’m pretty much the coolest/strictest mom ever.) But just not checking out the family at all? Am I the only one that would have a problem with this?

Beezus jokes with us that we’re the strictest parents of all her friends. And I’m totally ok with this. But now I’m getting a glimpse of what she sees in her other friends’ parents.

And I find it all a little…crazy. But I *am* the strictest mom ever. So there’s that.

Baby You Can Drive My Car…Maybe

 

As we get closer and closer to Beezus getting her driver’s license, I am pretty jazzed to attend the upcoming Drive it Home Show, presented by the National Safety Council and Allstate Foundation, Thursday, April 4. If you have tween, teen, or are concerned about teen driving safety, it will be an informative (and entertaining!) event. Please feel free to share this post with anyone who might like to attend. Details are as follows:

What: Drive it Home Show, presented by the National Safety Council and Allstate Foundation

When: Thursday, April 4 from 7pm – 8:15pm

Where: Jean Runyon Little Theater (1400 J St, Sacramento, CA 95814)

Price: FREE! (no tickets required)

Parking: Parking for the Sacramento Convention Center Complex is available at the city-run Memorial Garage at 14th and H Streets and privately owned lots within walking distance of the facilities. Parking rates vary by location and event. On-Street parking meters are also available and surround the Convention Center. Parking for visitors with disabilities can be found in the parking lots and at meters.

BONUS: You can enter in the sweepstakes at the event for a chance to win gas cards and a brand new car!

 If you’d like to attend, click here to register and let them know that Clever Girls Collective sent you. Hope to see you there!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Beezus Goes to College

Over the weekend, we met with a friend of ours that is our own personal “expert” on all things college admissions and recruiting. (I used quotations on expert only because if he ever read that, he’d probably be embarrassed or roll his eyes. But to be sure, we consider him to be our expert.) I had to miss parts of the meeting as I chauffeured Ramona back and forth to softball practice, but my mind was blown at how much I didn’t know. 

Sending your kid to college is complicated.

Remember when you went to kindergarten? You went to your neighborhood school. You dealt with the teacher you were given. Did Open Enrollment exist? I mean, I know there were private schools (I didn’t know anyone that went to a private school) but I don’t remember there being many choices about where to send your kid to school. But then I became a parent. There was a lot of hang-wringing. This school has higher test scores. But this school is well-rounded, diverse and still has art, science, etc.

And this is all just kindergarten and elementary school.

It doesn’t get any easier, though. Or maybe it does and I just worry about everything. I mean, we stressed for a YEAR about where to send Beezus to high school.  

This kid, though…she’s worked too hard. Straight A’s and pretty damn awesome athlete? Beezus has earned an awesome college choice. The Dude and I feel that we owe her our hard work in making sure she has as many options as possible.

We’ll do the same for both girls. Because college is so important. It just is.

I’m so grateful that we have such a wonderful and caring friend that is helping us through this process. Even if he doesn’t have all the answer (but he has most of them) he points us in the right direction. PSAT, SAT…ACT. I’ve never known so much about strategy and when and how to take these tests. And if our kids play any sports in college? We learned the pros and cons of Division 1 schools vs Division 2 schools…and Division 3 schools are a pretty damn good option. (If that’s what they want to do, obviously.) SO. MUCH. TO. LEARN. And I’m so glad for the help. I only hope that someday we can pay it forward to another family. Okay, I hope that someday The Dude can pay it forward to another family.

Just kidding. I’ll help too. You know I’m going to need a 17 new hobbies once my kids go off to college.

It’s the only thing that will save me from becoming a crazy cat-lady.